A Forgotten Step in Saving African Wildlife: Protecting the Rangers



4 thoughts on “A Forgotten Step in Saving African Wildlife: Protecting the Rangers

  1. Lack of resources for anti-poaching has been a constant in Africa’s fight to save its wildlife. The problem is that the government does not allocate the resources, and the benefits for many people from poaching outweigh concerns for the safety of the animals. Poaching brings huge sums from rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks. Bushmeat is desired by the growing population that is running out of farmland. Greed and human overpopulation are driving the demand for animal deaths.

    Winter’s “Earth Island Journal” has a great article on the Black Mambas, an anti-poaching unit of unarmed women. The group, founded by Craig Spencer, works to deter poaching and report criminal activity to the authorities. According to Spencer, shooting poachers—which seems like a good idea to me!—has resulted in turning more of the local people against the animals and the sanctuaries, which encourages even more poaching and death. So other options are tried, but more resources and dedicated personnel need to be found to support all the options, from the Black Mambas to the regular rangers and anti-poaching units

    Personally, I’m skeptical of some of the work done by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). They have supported “sustainable forest management” and have been cooperating/collaborating with exploiters, such as logging companies, e.g., the Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) and the Societe de Bois de Bayanga. The former has been cutting trees in areas three times the size of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. The latter has been cutting trees in the Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve. The logging companies not only destroy huge numbers of trees but also build roads into otherwise inaccessible areas, opening up those areas to more people, including hunters. Some of the logging companies also encourage their employees to hunt their own food, and as they hire more workers and as those workers bring their families into the peripheries, more animals die.

    Unfortunately, the current fight for wildlife around the world has tended to lose focus on the deep ecology philosophy promoted by Arne Naess, which maintained that every life had value, not just the species, and that biodiversity was both desirable and necessary. That outlook has been declared anti-people, even racist, western elitist, and neo-colonial, by some, and now the trend is back to a more anthropocentric outlook.

    According to Daniel Doak (“What is the Future of Conservation” in Protecting the Wild, pp 27-28) “A recent and much-publicized campaign, originating in the conservation community, marginalizes nature’s intrinsic value in favor of a primarily human-centered conservation ethic. . . . Instead of pursuing the protection of biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake, a new conservation should seek to enhance those natural systems that benefit the widest number of people.”

    So, back we go to Gifford Pinchot. Somehow the human species wins and animals lose.

    Anyone interested in the evils of the bushmeat trade and the part played by industry and conservation groups should read “Eating Apes,” by Dale Peterson (with graphic and horrific photos by Karl Ammon). It was published in 2003, but it doesn’t sound as if much has improved.

  2. Renee–I was just thinking the same thing: thee anti-poaching units should be armed. It is a war out there now. I just received reports from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund that no Gorillas were caught in snares in 2016. They are not armed as of yet, I believe. But, with the instability and violence on the planet now increasing every day, it seems a must, doesn’t it?

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